Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Expanding the culture of death in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | May 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMEsther Tyson

The minister of youth and culture, Lisa Hanna, wants Jamaica to legalise abortion as a way to stem the number of women who are poor and are having unwanted children whom they cannot support. Ms Hanna wants the conversation to begin about changing the laws on abortion in our nation but has expressed her view that this conversation needs to be devoid of emotion and reference to biblical scripture.

This position, if explored, would reveal a thought pattern that does not value the strong spiritual culture that exists in Jamaica. If we delve into this position, we would realise that whereas the honourable prime minister is calling on parents to send their children to Sunday (or Sabbath) school in order for them to get the spiritual and moral foundation that many seem to lack,

Ms Hanna would want the opposite to happen. She would want for these young people not to be influenced by the teachings of the Bible.

Some policymakers seem to have an insidious agenda to soften the opposition that Jamaicans have to practices such as abortion that are commonly accepted in North America and Europe. Policymakers such as Ms Hanna seem to assume that if they can undermine the respect that Jamaicans have for the Bible, a number of laws and policies based on Judaeo-Christian ethics can be changed. Such a shift in policy would make our populace's commonly held beliefs more acceptable to powerful North America-based donors. Once this agenda is fulfilled, we would have solved our poverty problems by opening the doors to grants that are currently unavailable to Jamaica. On the surface, this appears to be a win-win situation.

think long term

The problem is: Not every decision that looks expedient in the short term is the best choice to make for the long term. Jamaica has many problems, one of which is the high murder rate. We have added, in recent times, the killing of our children, especially girls who are having sexual relationships with older men and being murdered when things go sour.

We know because of poverty, many parents are pimping their daughters for economic gain. Is the solution to this abortion? Do we solve one problem by creating another?

There is a pervasive sense of lawlessness in our nation that has led many of our citizens to feel that they have the right to do anything as long it can help them to 'earn a bread' and 'mek dem feel good'. When we add the killing of innocent babies in the womb to the high level of innocent blood that has already been shed in this nation, we are creating an even greater evil. Indeed, we are embedding a culture of death in our nation.

If Ms Hanna's wish is fulfilled, I shudder to imagine how many more girls may be raped and abused by perverted men who reason that now they can have the girls abort any unwanted babies they conceive. These men do not use condoms because they want to go 'bareback' when having sex. In addition, they give these girls HIV and other STIs, not just babies. Would abortion help that?

treating symptoms

In this country we keep treating the symptoms of our problems and not the root cause. We need a cultural paradigm shift in which our girls and women learn to respect themselves and their bodies, and men learn to control their penises.

With the increased ability to see babies in utero through sonogram technology, more and more persons are coming to the realisation that the baby feels and responds to the pain caused from abortion. This is why there is an increasing number of reports asserting that millennials (i.e., persons born between 1980 and 2000) are less in favour of abortion than the previous generation. One must also ask why countries such as Russia are now legally restricting general access to abortions.

When death is seen as an answer to unwanted pregnancy, where the personhood of the baby is seen as expendable and where life is not valued, we are embedding a culture of death. We will start our descent down the slippery slope of moral relativism when Bible-based morality is taken out of the picture.

The next logical step will be legalising euthanasia as a way out of pain because each person should have the right to determine what to do with his or her body. In fact, this logic has played out in many European countries. Where will it end?

Ms Hanna cannot expect that Jamaica will have a conversation about abortion without reference to the scripture. In spite of so many things that are going wrong in our nation, respect for the Bible is one area where we have a light and hope. We have seen repeatedly that the lives of people have been transformed through teachings of the Bible, which many of us believe to be the Word of God. We have seen hardened criminals change through that Bible.

Ms Hanna, even though many Jamaicans do not follow the Bible as they should, they still respect what it says. You are seeking to change a national culture that has been embedded in us for years. It is the Bible that gave strength to our national heroes: Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon. Our anthem is a prayer to the God of the Bible. Ms Hanna, what do you propose to use to replace the Bible in the minds of the Jamaican people?

- Esther Tyson is an educator. Email feedback to and